A fresh start is taking shape at Rotherham Titans under Welsh coach Justin Burnell who is expected to reveal in the next few days some of the new signings he has made for the 2016-17 Championship campaign.
Burnell’s stature and his contacts with Premiership clubs and the top regional sides in South Wales are proving to be a success as he rebuilds the squad which will see many new faces arriving at Clifton Lane.
The Titans’ coach is certain that his future team will be competitive next season in a league that each year becomes tougher and much more costly, and a competition in which several clubs must exceed the RFU payment of more than £500,000 a year to finance the professional game below the Premiership.
Although Rotherham have still to release officially the names of the players who are leaving, it’s understood that so far fly half James McKinney has already gone as have wingers Curtis Wilson and Ben Rath and centre Jordan Davies.
Indeed, Wilson, it is thought, has signed for Ealing Trailfinders, the Titans’ final opponents of the season on Saturday.
Burnell’s aim was to finish the home season with a fourth consecutive win, but his hopes were spoilt by London Scottish who defended robustly and showed why they have the best defensive record in the Championship.
Rotherham had to be satisfied with a losing bonus point and considering the promising positions they created should have scored more than the two tries on 31 and 74 minutes by winger Michael Keating.
Scottish won by three tries to two in a close and entertaining match in which both sides had little to play for as they will be back in the Championship next season.
Rotherham gave themselves a good chance of winning following the conversion of Keating’s second try as the gap was cut to 22-17 with time remaining.
The Titans’ forwards pressed forward relentlessly as the clock wound down, but just when it seemed they would break through for match winning points, they lost control of the ball and Scottish survived to claim only their second win in seven games at Rotherham.
“If we’d been more clinical we could have won quite convincingly,” said Burnell.
“It was a flat, end of season performance, but we have to learn that if you want to get into the top half of the Championship, the error count has to be reduced,” he added pointedly.
The season has ended on a painful note for Rotherham’s lively scrum half Andy Davies who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle suffered 10 minutes into the second half.
Play was delayed for eight minutes while Davies received urgent medical attention on the pitch; he won’t play at Ealing and it’s uncertain that full back Will Goodwin will appear following an arm injury after only 15 minutes.
Rotherham Titans: Goodwin, Keating, Owen, Barker, Broadley, Robinson, Davies, Williams, Harris, Thiede, Redfern, Maddison, Birch, Preece, Ryan.
Replacements: Edgson, Cromie, Tampin, Sinclair, Argyle, Carter, Scanlon.
Scorers: Tries: Keating 2. Conversions: Robinson 2. Penalty: Robinson.
Referee: Christopher Ridley.